Recently, I’ve been working with higher education (HE) research sector bodies to explore the experiences of a group of UK higher education institutions as they forge ahead in their efforts to implement open access (OA).
I wanted to find out whether the experiences of these bodies - specifically, the Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA), Research Libraries UK (RLUK), Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) and UK Council of Research Repositories (UKCoRR) - can help others setting out along the same road.
At the same time, researchers and their institutions were gearing up for the latest set of OA policy developments, including July’s OA policy review by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the release of the Higher Education and Funding Council for England (HEFCE)'s updated requirements for next year’s Research Excellence Framework (REF).
Top tips for the OA journey
As institutions and researchers get to grips with these latest developments, now seems like a good time to offer our findings as a set of ‘top tips’ for those seeking to make progress in their own OA journey. Here they are:
Draw up a policy requiring research output availability in line with the REF
Developing a workable policy should be quite straightforward. There are lots of resources to draw on including these guidelines from UNESCO.
The Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies offers lots of examples and links to examples that you can browse and even reuse.
You can also read the REF OA policy itself.
Getting your own policy right will enable your institution to commit resources and it will help to ensure that academics understand both the requirements and the benefits of OA practice.
Assess your current position on OA
Explore your institution’s OA preparedness and do the same for its researchers; workshops and other activities are good ways to break down barriers and develop a team-working approach. Work up a baseline assessment so you can identify priority areas to work on first.
Further resources to help in this area are available on the OA good practice project blog.
Get your communications strategy right
For many a hard-pressed researcher, OA seems to be more about admin and compliance than anything else. A clear, effective communications programme will help to ensure that researchers understand the very real benefits of OA and encourage them to become willingly involved in the necessary workflows. This is a resource-hungry aspect of OA implementation, but it brings rich rewards.
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Setting up a standard OA email mechanism for use by publishers, academics and other participants in the process pays dividends by improving communication channels. You will probably need to commit time and resources to establishing systems to monitor the email address and manage workflows.
UCL, Lancaster, Newcastle and Warwick universities all employ standard OA emails mechanisms for this purpose.
Resolve the identity issue - implement ORCID
I’ve already mentioned the ORCID system of unique, persistent personal identifiers. It enables researchers to manage their own professional identity efficiently and it can help to automate many processes for their institutions, such as managing and maintaining records and reporting to the REF.
Jisc has recently brokered a national consortium agreement to help the UK’s higher education institutions implement it quickly, cost effectively and with an enhanced level of technical support.
Exploit tools that will help researchers navigate their way around OA policies
Our SHERPA/FACT service enables researchers to check whether the journal they plan to publish in is compliant with their research funder’s OA policies. It is a reasonably straightforward tool that can make it much easier to conduct checks and avoid mistakes over compliance.
Make sure your repository can support reporting and harvesting of metadata
Standardising the way information is recorded makes it quicker and easier to report to funders and other sector bodies.
RIOXX is a metadata application profile that has been developed to help in applying consistency to metadata fields and it can now be implemented in most repositories and Current Research Information Systems (CRISs). What’s more, having standardised metadata extends the reach of research by making it easier to discover.
We offer extensive technical support to help repositories aiming to adopt RIOXX.
Record article processing charges (APCs) efficiently
Many funders require information on APCs paid to journals. The same information is vital when you are working with the growing number of journal publishers who will offset APCs against journal subscription charges. Recording these charges accurately will save the institution money and so we have worked with several large funding bodies, including RCUK and the Wellcome Trust, to develop a single, agreed format.
The 'GW4' pathfinder project, run by the University of Bath library and associates at the universities of Bristol, Exeter and Cardiff, has explored OA reporting and APC payment workflows, while the project from Northumbria and Sunderland universities has worked on cost modelling tool for APCs.
Extend open practices to include your APC data
As the market for publication of OA articles develops, every research institution stands to gain from keener pricing if charging is transparent.
Add a simple button in your repository to improve reach and impact
The simple act of including a ‘copy request’ button will enable potential readers to access research from your institution even if it is not published in OA, and it is very easy to do in most repository configurations.
You’ll need to prime researchers to look out for such enquiries, but it should be relatively easy for them to fulfil requests for all but older papers held in the repository.
Some considerations about adding the button are discussed in this blog post by Richard Poynder.
Install a tracker code to make download data available to the IRUS-UK aggregation service
This is a practical way to monitor your own institution’s download data and compare it with peer institutions so that you can monitor performance of the repository and the reach of research.
There are some FAQs on the IRUS website to help you get started.
More information - read our guide
Our guide summarises these tips in more detail and includes links to many more sources of information and help.
Take part in our webinar
Want to know more? Look out for our webinar taking place during International Open Access week - 19-25 October.